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Big Baby Step

 
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Victoria Granger
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:43 pm    Post subject: Big Baby Step Reply with quote

First day at school. It was a big step for such a little person ... and a big step for her parents, too. Thankfully, the school was more than prepared for parents who couldn't quite drag themselves away from their little one's first day at school. Vicki and Jon were among those parents, loitering in the back of the classroom to watch as their little girl took her first real steps into the world without them. Delighted with her uniform and her new friends and everything around her, the little redhead had offered them both perfunctory kisses and hugs before scampering off to find little friends she already knew, eager to take part in this new thing that would be such a big part of her life for a long time to come. And despite her teasing attitude, and her general outlook on the way things were, Vicki found herself just a little bit tearful as she hugged Jon's arm, hiding her face behind his shoulder so their eldest daughter didn't see her crying. Emily really was growing up, and already leaving them behind.

"Our baby is growing up, Vic," Jon lamented. It was no secret that, as his firstborn, Emily was his pride and joy. She was definitely a Daddy's girl, at least as far as Jon was concerned. He watched as she hurried off to join old friends and make new ones, that pride mixed with a little sadness to know she was growing up so quickly.

It took a moment for Vicki to answer, sniffling behind his shoulder as she raised her hand to discreetly try and wipe her face dry. "I can't believe how grown up she looks," she whispered, smiling through her tears. It was a bittersweet feeling, and one she knew she was going to have to get used to. They had three more doses of this coming to them.

He hadn't noticed her tears, until he heard the sound of her sniffling and turned his head to regard her with a raised brow. "Are you crying?" he asked her gently, though that much seemed obvious. Turning to face her, he smiled softly and reached over to carefully brush whatever tears remained from her face. "She's not leaving us yet. She's just going to school," he reminded her, though he was most likely feeling the same melancholy mix of emotions she was. They had gone so far as to discuss home-schooling, in the end deciding that it was better for both them and Emily if they went with traditional schooling, instead. They could, after all, only keep her little so long.

Vicki rolled her eyes, laughing a little at herself. "I know," she agreed. "It's just ... she's never gone anywhere without one of us holding her hand. And she's so ready to let go, just for a few hours a day. And yes, I know I'm the one who said parents who cry on the first day of school are idiots. I'm embracing my inner idiot."

"Do you think we'll cry this much when the twins go to school?" Jon asked, laughing a little - not at her, but at them both, as Jon's eyes were suspiciously wet, too. He reached for her to pull her into his embrace, in part to give her comfort and in part for himself.

She giggled softly, hugging her arms about his waist. She'd known he was going to be emotional; she hadn't expected it of herself. "We'll be worse," she predicted, her eyes turning to follow Emily once more as the class set about their first lesson together.

"It's better this way, you know," Jon said, though it was unclear if he was saying it to comfort himself or his wife or both. "It would be a lot harder if she was crying and clingy."

"And it won't always be this easy," she agreed softly. "We'll just have to get used to it, I suppose." She smiled as Emily looked over at the back of the classroom, smiling her bright little smile at her parents before applying herself very seriously to drawing her family.

Jon wiggled his fingers at Emily to acknowledge his daughter, smiling through his tears, before sniffling and looking back at Vicki. "I suppose we should leave her be before we get labeled as hover parents, huh?" he asked, uncertainly.

Drawing in a slow deep breath, Vicki nodded. "It's probably not a good idea to be the last parents to leave the classroom," she mused, gently disengaging her arms. Emily looked up again as they moved, her freckled face crumpling a little at the sight of her parents getting ready to leave.

Thankfully, Jon didn't notice the expression on his daughter's face or he might have never left. Separation, if only short-lived, was something they were all going to have to get used to, if they wanted Emily to grow up a healthy, happy child. He and Vicki made their way hand-in-hand toward the door, with one last glance over his shoulder to smile over at Emily.

And there was that look - ever so slightly betrayed and a little bit frightened of being left all alone, despite the fact that she was surrounded by her own peer group. Vicki did the only thing she could think of. Faced with Emily's imminent tears, her irrepressible mother pulled the most comically gruesome face she could think of behind Jon's back, and their daughter's weepy face instantly transformed into giggles.

Jon hadn't noticed Vicki's face-making or he might have laughed himself, but he felt infinitely better to see Emily giggling and looking like she was having fun. It was better than having to tear themselves away from a crying, clingy child who was terrified to leave them. He threw their daughter a kiss before dragging Vicki away and closing the classroom door behind them with a resigned and wistful sigh. Thankfully, school would let out in a few hours, and Emily would return home to them.

"I don't know how people can stand to send their kids away to boarding school," he mused aloud.

"God, I could never do that," Vicki agreed, hugging her arm about his waist as they turned away toward the entrance. They weren't the last parents to leave, thankfully, and Emily could proudly state that her Daddy was a famous actor, and her Mummy could pull the best faces. It wasn't a bad start to her school career. "It's going to take a while to get used to her being away most of the day."

"But it's one less kid to juggle during the day," he pointed out, though as the eldest, Emily was probably the easiest of the bunch to handle right now, with the twins needing the most attention.

"True. Doesn't mean I won't miss her, though." Vicki touched her cheek to his shoulder as they walked. "At least I didn't completely embarrass her by bursting into heaving sobs. I thought I might be able to hold it together, but apparently not."

"I'll miss her, too, but it's only for a few hours a day," he reasoned, turning his head to touch a kiss to her forehead as she laid her cheek against his shoulder. He smiled suddenly, an almost mischievous gleam in his eyes. "So, we have a little time to ourselves before we have to get home and relieve Dani. Any ideas?"

She glanced up at his mischievous face, and snorted with laughter. "We are not making another baby," she informed him laughingly, wriggling her finger into his ticklish ribs.

He chuckled as he batted her hand away from his side, laughing only in part of her tickling. "That's not what I meant," he told her, though he wasn't opposed to a little unplanned afternoon - or morning - delight. "I thought maybe we could stop somewhere before we head home." But he didn't say where.
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Victoria Granger
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brightening as they walked away from the school, Vicki chuckled fondly. "That sounds like a really good idea," she agreed. "A little time to be just us before we have to go and be Mum and Dad again."

"The question is where to?" he mused aloud, unsure where she might want to go, though the destination wasn't as important as the companionship. "Is Venice too far?" he teased, remembering with fondness the surprise trip he'd planned for her, during which he'd popped the question.

She laughed again at that. "Well, technically, we could hop a portal and have brunch in Venice," she admitted, "but then our cell phones wouldn't work, and Dani might panic if she has to call us."

"Mmm, Paris for breakfast; Venice for coffee," he remarked in return. "And maybe London for tea, or fish and chips?" he added with a grin, though he knew they weren't going to any of those places anytime soon. "How about settling for Elena's?" he suggested.

"Oh, because that's such a hardship," she teased affectionately, tilting her head back to kiss his jaw tenderly. "Yes, Elena's sounds like a brilliant idea. Maybe Mica won't spill her juice on your crotch this time."

Jon laughed. "That would be preferable!" Especially, since he'd had nothing to cover the spot up with or change into at the time, and had to resort to the hand dryer in the bathroom.

"If I'm very good, can I have raspberry cheesecake?" She batted her lashes at him sweetly. It wasn't as though he was going to say no, but Vicki did like to push her husband's buttons. She was getting sneakier at doing it, too, but every now and then, she pulled out the obvious tricks just to make him smile.

"Baby, you are always very good," he replied, waggling his brows at her in a way that hinted at something other than her behavior. If there was one aspect of their relationship that wasn't lacking, it was the sexual part.

He got one of her especially dirty laughs for that - hardly appropriate for a woman being walked off the premises of their daughter's school, but definitely all Vicki. "Mmm ... we are definitely due a date night."

"Just say when," he told her, more than happy to fulfill that wish, though it thought it might be better to wait until they were more accustomed to their new routine now that Emily was in school and he was returning to work at the close of auditions.

She smiled, gently tugging him down the right lane toward the enticing smell of Elena's coffee wafting through the door of Incredible Edibles. "Let's make sure you two settle into work and school first, huh?"

"Yes, dear," he replied, with another teasing grin. It wasn't like work was anything new for him; it was just going to take a little time getting used to their new routine now that autumn was about to arrive. He paused to take in the aroma of Elena's, murmuring appreciatively, his stomach growling in anticipation.

Vicki snorted faintly, rubbing his stomach. "I knew you should have eaten breakfast," she laughed in a fond tone. "Come on, grumpasaurus, let's drown our sorrows in caffeine and sugar."

"Breakfast of champions," he replied with a chuckle as he led her inside, the scent of baked goods and coffee brewing leading the way. He wasn't sure if Mataya's sister would be there this morning, but that wasn't why they were there.

Magnolia, the hobbit behind the counter, grinned at them as they sauntered inside. "D'you know, you're the fourth couple to walk in here looking like your puppy got spanked," she informed them cheerfully. "Little Em all growed up, is she?"

"Growed up ..." Jon broke off for a moment to correct himself. "Grown up enough for kindergarten," he bemoaned aloud with a small frown, though he wasn't looking too overly upset about it.

"Lucky for you, Ellie knew you'd be in," Mags told them, sliding two large slices of cheesecake across the counter before turning to make their usual order of coffee without needing to ask. "On the house for the broken-hearted progenitors."

"We're not broken-hearted," Jon pointed out, or at least, that wasn't quite how he'd have phrased their feelings about Emily starting school. They could easily afford to pay their way, too, but still, he appreciated the show of support. "It's just gonna take a little getting used to," he explained.

"Come the holidays, you'll be begging them to take her back," Mags predicted cheerfully, setting their drinks on a tray for them.

"If we do, I will personally come down here and snog you senseless for being a know-it-all," Vicki threatened with a flicker of a grin.

Jon couldn't imagine himself - or Vicki, for that matter - ever begging anyone to take Emily off their hands, and yet, it was nice to get a little time to themselves now and then, especially considering they were almost constantly surrounded by four small humans under the age of four. At least, Jon got a break when he went to work, except on Saturdays when he was teaching STARS classes.

"You can snog me senseless," he teased, nudging Vicki's arm before grabbing up the tray to carry it over to their usual table.

"Making your fella jealous there, Vic," Mags laughed, waving them away as Vicki snickered, falling in behind her husband. It didn't seem as though Elena was in yet, which was something of a mercy. When she was around, they invariably ended up with Mica at their table. It wasn't so much adult time, as time spent with someone else's kid.

Jon had never felt he was very good with kids, until he had a few of his own. Nowadays, a good portion of his time was spent with kids, both his own and other people's, which only made the time he and Vicki had alone together that much more precious. He wasn't complaining though. He was thankful to be surrounded by family and friends, even if he couldn't remember all the troubled years when he'd been mostly alone.

Jon laughed at Mags' comment as he set the tray down on the table and claimed a seat for himself. "So, what should we talk about?" he asked his wife, now that they were mostly alone.

Sliding into a seat herself, Vicki considered him for a moment over the rim of her coffee, a faint flicker in her eyes suggesting she already knew what they were going to talk about. "Do you remember when we could just drop everything and disappear off to another country for a weekend?" she asked curiously. "We should do that again sometime. Just us, no children."

He quirked a brow at her remark, not having expected it, even though he'd been the one to bring up the subject of Venice. Before Emily, they'd managed to sneak off quite often, sometimes to England to visit her father, sometimes to other places all on their own, just going wherever their whims drew them. "Okay, but where and who would watch the kids for us?" he asked. It wasn't hard finding someone to sit with on child, but now that they had four, it was a different story.

"We could get Dad to come over here and watch them," she suggested. "Between them, he and Humph can probably handle the kids and the dog, and I'm sure Dani wouldn't mind keeping a closer eye for a couple of days if we offer her a decent incentive."
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Victoria Granger
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"That's an idea," Jon replied thoughtfully. "But do you think your Dad and Humphrey could handle them?" Of course, there was plenty of family available at Maple Grove to lend a hand, if needed, but Jon needed a little more convincing.

"I think we could probably convince, oooh ... Kaylee and Taylor to have a two night sleepover with Clare at the big house as well," she suggested, cutting into her cheesecake. "Sam likes Cosmo, so that's the dogs sorted."

"True," Jon remarked, pausing a moment to take a sip of his coffee. There were actually plenty of people to choose from, both family and friends, who'd probably be happy to watch the kids for a few days, as well as their crazy dog. "Maybe we should put all their names in a hat and pick a winner," he suggested with a grin.

She laughed around her mouthful cheerfully. "That might actually work, you know," she admitted. "Although maybe not Piper's little house - they're too close to having a new little screamer themselves for us to be that cavalier."

"So, we leave them out of the running," Jon remarked. That still left plenty of possibilities, but that still left the question of destination. "So, where would you like to go, Mrs. Granger?" he asked, as he scooped up a forkful of cheesecake.

Licking her lips clean, Vicki took up her cup again. "If I'm honest, I don't really have a preference," she admitted, almost awkwardly. "I just feel a little starved of time with you and only you. We should go somewhere where there's plenty to do during the day, and a very comfortable bed for doing other things."

"Are we talking touristy or outdoorsy things?" he asked in an attempt to narrow down the choices, of which there were many, both on Rhy'Din and elsewhere.

"It's autumn, love," she pointed out in amusement. "If you want to put up with me moaning about how cold it is for ten straight hours, let's do outdoorsy."

"You didn't seem to mind going skiing," he was quick to point out, though much of that trip had been spent warming up in bed or in front of the fire.

She snickered. "Do you remember losing me into a snow drift right in front of the chalet?" she reminded him with a glowing grin. She really wasn't an outdoorsy person unless warmth was guaranteed, but at least she always tried something before vetoing it in future.

Jon chuckled at the memory. "I do remember that. I also remember having a lot of fun warming you up," he added with a grin. "Okay, so not outdoorsy. How about Paris?" he suggested. After all, she seemed to have loved Venice, so why not try Paris?

"Last time we went to Paris, it was with the kids," she mused, but the excited flutter of her lashes proved he'd hit upon a winner. "Promise me we'll stay away from Euro-Disney, and you're on."

"I promise!" he told her, laying one hand against his heart to indicate his intention on keeping that promise. If they were going to go to Paris without the kids, they would definitely be focusing on more mature activities than a trip to an amusement park. He was already imagining trips to the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, not to mention the food.

Vicki actually squeaked, immediately excited by the idea of a couple of days in Paris with him. "So we can see the Louvre, Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Elysses ... Oh, we could take one of those boat tours down the Seine, too!" There really was a lot to do in Paris, and since she had artistic leanings, he could confidently look forward to being dragged bodily through the artist's quarter.

Jon laughed, amused by her enthusiasm. "Well, yes, but if we're just going for a weekend, we might have to pick and choose," he pointed out. It was hardly possible to see everything Paris had to offer in just a few days.

She bit her lip, laughing at her own excitement. "Okay, I can be restrained," she assured him impishly. "The Louvre and the Eiffel Tower? And maybe Notre-Dame if we have time between epic sex sessions?"

"How many days are we talking here?" he asked, thinking they might be able to do that if they spent one day at each place, though he doubted the Eiffel Tower would take an entire day. They could easily get lost in the Louvre, though, especially with a wife who had been an art major.

"Three?" she suggested, her smile gentling. "Two nights, three days, since we only have to hop a portal to get home. I don't really want to leave the kids for more than two nights; they're a bit clingy when we get back after being away, and any more than that might mean we never get our bed to ourselves ever again!"

"That sounds do-able," he replied without hesitation. Any more than that, and they'd miss the kids almost as much as the kids missed them. "Just say when!" he added with a smile. The "when" hardly mattered, if they were only going away for a few days. He should easily be able to find someone to handle STARS classes, if it was only for one weekend, and they could easily plan around his schedule at the theater.

"When," she countered with a grin. "Tag, you're it!" She winked at him affectionately, downing the last of her coffee to wipe her mouth and lean back with a smile. "Oh, that was nice."

He chuckled again at her impish sense of humor. "Okay, how about November, when the theater is busy with the ballet?" he suggested. That way, he wouldn't be needed at the theater, and Emily would have gotten accustomed to school by them.

She considered this for a moment, her grin widening as she realized they were going to be doing it again - skipping off for a mini-break in November. It was virtually a tradition at this point. "November works for me," she agreed. "Take me away from the stress of an ever-looming Christmas for a couple of days."

There was nothing wrong with keeping such a tradition, as far as Jon was concerned. Their family might even start to expect it from them. "Christmas doesn't have to be stressful, Vicki," he remarked with another chuckle, though he knew how much she always wanted the holiday to be perfect.

"Christmas is always stressful," she countered with a smile of her own. "It got worse when we had kids." She laughed, shaking her fingers through her hair. "But it's a good kind of stress, you know? My dad made Christmas a wonderful time of year for me; I want to give our children that."

"I can help, you know," he reminded her with a small frown. Yes, he was busy with the theater, but his family was just, if not more, important to him. He knew a lot of preparation went into getting ready for Christmas, but it wasn't up to her to do it all.

"And you do," she pointed out. "You're the one who gets the stockings put together, and you're the one who hangs the decorations and hoists the children up to decorate the little tree in our rooms. You've never shrunk away from wrapping presents with an overly-helpful toddler and a hyperactive dog, either. All the little things that you do help, Jon. I'm just a little obsessive, that's all."

He had never understood why this one holiday had to be so stressful, when it should be fun. "Okay, so what causes you the most stress?" he asked, trying to get to the heart of the matter, though it might not be just one thing, but all of it together. Now that they were living at the manor, it was mostly up to them to make all the preparations for the family's annual holiday gathering, but she didn't have to do it alone.
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Victoria Granger
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Honestly? The last couple of years, it's been finding the time to get all the little bits done," she admitted. "I almost completely forgot the baskets for the orphanage last year, and that would have been a disaster. Maybe I should make a list and tack it up somewhere so we can both cross things off it."

"That's a thought, but what about enlisting some help, too? I'm sure there are plenty of people who'd be happy to help, Vic," he told her. He didn't bother to name names, but there were plenty of people just at Maple Grove alone who might be willing to help.

"Well ... we could put Humphrey in charge of arguing with Lucille over the food for the family 'do this year," she suggested in amusement. The cook would fight tooth and nail for traditional meat and veg, and with the right prodding, the Old Man would stand his ground on the less traditional - but more popular - finger foods.

"That works, for starters," Jon agreed, waiting for her to realize a few other solutions without his prodding. If only she realized it wasn't all on her. She was part of a family now that had grown by leaps and bounds and was known for coming together when help was needed.

"Well, we have to get past Halloween before I absolutely need to write that list, and once it's written, you can bully me into asking for help from all over the Grove," she promised him. It was a better deal than watching her wind up for the horror that had been the day before Christmas Eve last year. Chris Marshall had actually taken a hand in smoothing his daughter's temper, and had gotten her tipsy on brandy while Jon and a few others finished up what had finally sent her over the edge into impotent rage.

And no one wanted a repeat of that, especially her husband, but the twins were a little bit older now and their household was starting to calm down as they got into a normal routine. "I could ask for you," he volunteered. After all, they were in this together, and he wanted to help.

"You do realize Elle's been on at me about this, too?" she told him, blue eyes genuinely sparkling with good humor. "Anyone would think that I had a meltdown last year. Obviously that didn't happen. I was the epitome of calm and joy, and no one had to force half a bottle of brandy down my throat. That has never happened." She winked at him, fully aware that she'd given everyone a bit of a shock.

"No, of course not. Not you," Jon replied, eyes twinkling with amusement. Of course, they both knew better, but he was willing to go along with the ruse. Normally, the tables were turned, and it was Vicki who was the calming force in the family, but with a pair of infants only a few months old, last Christmas had proved stressful for both of them. "This year will be different," he told her. "Promise."

"It will," she promised him in return, reaching across the table to squeeze his hand. "We're operating on six hours of sleep a night right now, that's a huge improvement on last year." She chuckled, shifting to stand up. "Come on, Director Granger, let's go home and cuddle the twins before their big brother comes home from nursery."

Now that they'd finished their cheesecake and coffee and discussed their plans for the near future, there didn't seem much reason to linger, when she put it that way. "Yes, ma'am," he replied, taking one last swallow of his coffee before moving to his feet.

"One of these days, you're going to have to salute whenever you call me that," she informed him, offering a wave to Magnolia as they slipped from the cafe. "Makes me sound like a severe military dictator. Or the Queen."

"Queen Victoria of Rhy'Din," Jon quipped with a grin, tossing a wave at Mags before heading for the door and pulling it open for his wife. "But you're a lot prettier than your namesake," he pointed out, regarding the real Queen Victoria who'd lived over a century earlier.

"And I am always amused," she agreed with a low laugh, stepping out into the morning sunlight. She reached back to take his hand. "Come on, love. We're owed a bit of quiet cuddle time with the babies before Ben comes home after lunch."

He would have liked to have cuddled with her, but that would just have to wait until later. In the meantime, he was thankful they'd managed to find a little quiet time for themselves, even if it hadn't lasted long. Every little bit counted, and he was just as grateful for the time spent with their children, never taking any of it for granted. "Sounds like a plan," he said, in agreement as he followed her outside. It seemed they were both full of good ideas today.

And with the twins sleeping through the night consistently now, this year's winter festivities were definitely going to go well. After all, he sees you when you're sleeping ...
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